Red cabbage (also known as purple cabbage) is a member of the brassica genus and a popular feature of many Christmas dinner spreads. This nutrient-dense vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, getting its purple colour from a flavonoid called anthocyanin.


There are a variety of ways to cook red cabbage, but the most common are braising or pickling it, as well as stir-frying. We've put together some red cabbage recipe ideas for you, from festive side dishes to standalone meals, plus the health benefits of red cabbage.

How to cook red cabbage

Watch our cookery team's video for how to make red cabbage with apples and aromatic spices. It's the perfect accompaniment to a roast dinner. See how to make it with our step-by-step video.

How to prepare red cabbage

  1. Choose the best red cabbage by selecting one that feels heavy, is bright and has crisp leaves. Avoid any that have puffy leaves or outer layers removed.
  2. Red cabbages are easy to prepare. Strip off the outer leaves, wash, then slice into quarters, cut out the hard central core on each, then chop or shred.
  3. Lock in the colour by adding a touch of vinegar when cooking red cabbage in water. This stops the lovely deep purple hue from running.
  4. Don’t be too heavy-handed with red cabbage. A lot of its frumpy reputation comes from it being over-pickled or boiled for an eon. Although it’s a sturdy vegetable it’s not invincible…
  5. Go raw. Lock in nutrients by eating your cabbage uncooked in salads. Just make sure you slice it very finely.

Why is red cabbage purple?

This variety of cabbage gets its purple-reddish colour from the flavonoid anthocyanin and the acidity level of the soil where it's grown.

Top 10 red cabbage recipes

1. Pickled red cabbage

Pickled red cabbage in a jar

Shop-bought pickled red cabbage can sometimes be too sharp and vinegary. Our homemade version uses less abrasive cider vinegar. As it keeps for a month, it makes a nice addition to a Christmas hamper.

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2. Chinese braised red cabbage

Chinese braised cabbage in a bowl topped with spring onions and sesame seeds

Red cabbage can handle heavy flavours. This braised side dish teams it with star anise, soy sauce and ginger. It’s a great alternative dish for the Christmas dinner table.

3. Mulled red cabbage with clementines

Mulled red cabbage in a bowl with a clementine pierced with cloves

Enjoy all the flavours of everyone’s favourite festive tipple in this heathy side. Snuggle a clove-studded clementine into your cabbage during cooking for some real winter warmth.

4. Sautéed salted red cabbage with cranberries

Sautéed red cabbage and cranberries in a blue serving platter

Try this beautifully simple two-step sautéed red cabbage. Salt the red cabbage overnight to soften it – this way, it will only need cooking for a fraction of the time. It still retains all the flavour and texture.

5. Red cabbage with apples & star anise

Red cabbage with apples and star anise in a bowl

Apples and red cabbage are perfect partners. This braised dish is laced with cinnamon and bay leaves, too.

6. Cider-braised cabbage wedges

Cider braised red cabbage wedges in a pot

Make these cider-braised cabbage wedges up to three days ahead for a stress-free Christmas dinner. The dish makes an ideal accompaniment to festive turkey.

7. Pickled red cabbage with walnuts & apple

Pickled red cabbage with walnuts & apple in a salad bowl with salad servers

Serve this festive pickled red cabbage with cold cuts and sausage rolls on Boxing Day and beyond. It also makes a fantastic side dish for Christmas Day.

8. Braised red cabbage

Braised red cabbage in a bowl

This low-fat Christmas side dish is the perfect sweet-savoury combination. Or try one of our simple twists using preserved lemon, ginger wine and bacon.

9. Red cabbage with port, prunes & orange

Red cabbage with port, prunes & orange

Flavour red cabbage with port, prunes and orange for an indulgent festive side dish that delivers two of your 5-a-day. It can be made in advance and frozen for up to three months.

10. Spiced ginger beer slow cooker cabbage


Enjoy this spiced ginger beer slow cooker cabbage at Christmas. With sweetness and spice, it makes an ideal accompaniment to a roasted ham.


Is red cabbage a must for you during the festive season? How do you like to serve it? We have more suggestions in our recipe collection.

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